Is anyone else out there shocked that the summer is half-way over? Is anyone else out there shocked that 2015 is more than half-way over?
Personally, I know that one of the reasons these months have become a blur is that I have just begun to slow down and enjoy the beauty of the days. Oh, I always have work to do, whether housework or personal pleasures/ enrichment tasks/ summer school/ business needs. But these last few days have been days of sleeping late, enjoying the beauty of family, and–when my energy kicks in–tackling the day and being okay with what doesn’t get accomplished. It means I am rolling with the household tide and relaxing that tomorrow is, indeed, another day.
In summary, I am doing something that is completely foreign to my nature. At least for this brief time, it feels pretty good. My mind and body needed this, and wisdom says to listen.
And yet, the clock is spinning.
So our oldest observed as she and my husband have continued to communicate back and forth the details by which he will pick her up from her Midwestern stay in just a few weeks. They have been planning what to take in, how long to stay at each attraction, and what needs to happen so that their fantasies become reality: boxes for shipping must be packed, luggage must be loaded, and rest is necessary on both parts to fully enjoy their time.
But, she, too, has had a busy summer as a working girl. It was so busy, in fact, that she just happened to look at her calendar and realize that she will only be at home for little more than a week before we are back on the road transporting her to the next stop: a semester-long stay in the northeast to take part of a student exchange program. Then the lament began:
“I’m not going to get to spend any time with my friends.”
“I won’t get to hang out at home.”
“Can’t y’all just move with me?” (a running joke since she left home the first time)
As my husband relayed the conversation to me, I thought about the conversations between the two of us over these past couple of months.
We have talked about the city that might become her new home–where she wants to live, how to manage her money, and staying safe, ’cause ‘this isn’t Kansas anymore.’
We have talked about workplace behaviors, and the unwritten rules of giving a good impression.
We have talked about people–being discerning about who you spend time with, and understanding that sometimes God isolates you from people and situations for a reason.
If I had to sum up our discussions in a few words, I would say that we talked about the fact that she no longer lives here; she’s on guest status.
I see how parents can sometimes develop more than a moderate case of the “empty nest” syndrome. I have read that sometimes it is because as a parent, you sacrifice so much of your life for your children until you have no idea what to do with an empty house and fewer “to-dos” on the list. I have also read that sometimes you have not made time with your spouse a high enough priority, and now, with kids gone, you have no idea how to connect with this stranger who is the sole sharer of your space. What resonates with me, however, is the fact that times goes fast. With our son leaving on next year, our household has downsized itself to 3 people seemingly overnight.
There are perhaps some readers who would vehemently shake their heads and say that, in qualifying our daughter as a visitor, I am way off base. But I was gently reminded of the Lord’s Word to us about our responsibility as parents:
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Psalm 127:4
My true confession: there are a couple of years when children are small that I myself probably sound like a toddler to God. “Why??” “Why??” “Why, Lord, why??” But I really enjoy having older children–the maintenance is low, and the potential for adult-like conversation is high. Sure, children need you at every age, and you love them at ever stage, but I am convinced that I am perhaps better at meeting near-adult needs than matching a toddler’s energy. Having said that, at this stage, I really enjoy the kids being at home; I relish the things we get to enjoy as a family, at an age when everyone can take in what’s happening and discuss it. But my timing is off. This is the time when the kids are forging their way into the adult world, and I have to face a cold, hard fact: my Biblical place in their lives is not to hold on to them, but to point them meaningfully, strategically, productively out into the world.
For the past three nights, I have watched the mini-series “Tut.” I watched the wars carefully as I put this post together in my head. I watched the archers. They were not rushed, nor did they shoot aimlessly. Though the movie did not show it, I am sure they spent years honing their skills. At the right time, they considered the target, focused, and pointed. For almost two decades now, that is what we have done, to the best of our abilities. Understanding the nature of a kind God in an unkind world, we have sharpened, we have pointed, we have considered our three arrows and what they would need to be effective at hitting a future target (whatever that target may be).
For two of our three arrows, it is time to shoot.
There are a number of decisions to be made over the next few years as we realize the impact of sending the kids off. Not to be belittled is the maintenance and eventual move (if the Lord says the same) from this increasingly over-sized home. More immediately, however, is this whole aim-and-shoot season in which we find ourselves.
May the Lord bless our aim in ways that we cannot even see yet.
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. 1 Corinthians 2:9